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07/11/2012

New member of the U.S. hockey hall of fame, Mike Modano, fears more bad for the NHL

Mike-modanoNot that this comes as a terribly big surprise, but today the U.S. hockey hall of fame announced that former Dallas Stars center Mike Modano will be a part of its 2012 class. He is arguably the greatest American-born player in the history of the sport.

He will join former New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and former NHL player and coach Eddie Olcyzk. The date and time of the induction have yet to be determined.

It will be a bigger deal when Modano goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

On to far more pressing issues ...

I spoke with Modano today regarding the future of the Dallas Stars, and this man sounds very much like a guy who fears that the NHL is headed for another lockout.

He didn't come out and say it, but he sounds as if he is anticipating a work stoppage when he said "(a deal) can be done before the holidays."

He's not talking Veteran's Day. He's talking Christmas. The Stars regular season schedule begins on Sat. Oct. 13. 

A work stoppage through the holidays would mean the loss of approximately 30 to 35 games.

A work stoppage has mostly been a taboo term since 2004 when the NHL shut the entire season down in a labor dispute with the players. 

With the contract between the two sides essentially expired, both the union and the players are being extremely careful with their public rhetoric. The league has operated business as usual, and both sides are engaged in formal negotiations. But this hasn't gotten too serious yet.

Unlike in 2004, when both sides all but declared war on the other, this is being handled much more delicately.

"I do believe the framework is better now than in 2004. There were so many moving parts back then," Modano said. "Now everyone has accepted the salary cap when we hadn't back then. There hasn't been as much mud slinging over this summer. It's been a good move to keep things quiet over the summer. But come training camp, I don't know. I'll leave it alone. You know where I am going."

220px-Gary_Bettman_CropTimes are also different. In 2004, NHL boss Gary Bettman had complete support from networks and sponsors to wait out the other side. The union is now run by veteran sports labor negotiator Don Fehr, who in his time as the baseball union leader routinely put a clown suit on those owners.

Fehr didn't get it handed to him until the feds took over in the steroid stuff.

The problem for Bettman is that unlike in 2004 when he broke the union to have another work stoppage would be to alienate a fan base that has not-too-fond memories of having already been treated like trash.

The fans now know that all of these money-saving measures to improve the game and restore competitive balance was BS. It was a money grab then, and it's a money grab now.

 

 

 

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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